Preparing The American Healthcare System For An Aging Population

The U.S. health system is currently coping with a rapidly growing aging population. In lieu of this, researchers are looking at hospital discharge data to better understand how older Americans navigate the healthcare system, and when they are the most in need of long-term care. According to a new report by the National Center of Health Statistics released earlier this week, people age 85 and older made up nearly 10 percent of all hospital discharges in 2010 despite accounting for just 2 percent of the population. People in the 85 or older age group are also significantly less likely to go home once they are discharged from the hospital, commonly being admitted into nursing homes at a higher rate than people even 10 years younger. Complications, including the common hip fracture (usually the result of falling), is the primary reason why people in this age group needed to go to the hospital in the first place. For people age 85 and older, hip fractures are nearly three times higher than people just one decade younger. Researchers note that going forward, a growing percentage of our population will be in the 85-and-older age group.

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